A wise man once told me you never want to work for a tyrant or a lunatic. As an athlete, you don’t want to play for a tyrant or lunatic. As a coach, you should never be a tyrant or a lunatic.
Tyrants manage through fear. Everyone around them is afraid to say or do the wrong thing. Tyrants make their subordinates feel like a mistake is the end of the world. The basketball player is afraid to miss a shot, the quarterback is afraid to throw an interception and the baseball player is afraid to strikeout.
Unfortunately, fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fearful athletes miss more shots, throw more picks, and strikeout more than confident ones. Tyranny also strips away humanity – from you and your kids. It’s necessary and productive to show them the same patience and love you show your family.
Rapper Kevin Gates once broached the subject in an interview where he was asked about fellow artists who seem to always be in a gangster persona. I think his words also apply to the tyrannical coach. Gates said, “You’re a gorilla all the time? I mean all the time? When you’re out with your kids or on a date with the [person] you love, you’re a Grrr…gorilla. There’s no reason to be that way.”
It’s hard to maintain fear. People usually look to get away from what makes them afraid or they start to resist it. To put it bluntly, you’ll lose your team and/or your job as a coach if you keep being mean to people. Stop it!
Lunatics are people whose directions and direction make no sense. They literally don’t know what they’re doing and keep everyone around them guessing about what’s expected and what success looks like. Lunatics make basketball players run long, slow laps because they didn’t get back on defense fast enough.
Long, slow distance running is the opposite of anything fast. When the kid is done running his laps, he’s going to get back on defense even slower and he’ll be made to run more laps and yada, yada, yada.
Lunatics make their running backs carry the football around school so they’ll stop fumbling. Again, that makes no sense. Fumbles occur at game speed when the athlete is being chased or tackled. No one is chasing your athlete to third period French.
Former New York Giants running back Tiki Barber had a huge fumbling problem during his career. Instead of making Barber carry the football through a grocery store, his coach, Tom Coughlin, fixed his technique. He had Barber carry the ball almost underneath his armpit and tight to his body.
Barber’s fumbles dropped and the Giants picked up a Super Bowl win out of the deal. Steve Nicollerat, St. Louis University High hall of fame baseball coach often says, “Have a reason for everything you do as a coach. Don’t just do stuff because you saw it on TV or because your dad or former coach did it. If you don’t know why your kids are running a certain drill or play, then stop doing those things.”
Bottom line: Don’t be a tyrant or a lunatic. Even-tempered, smart, detail-oriented people win championships too.